- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2003

INDIA
Hindu hard-liner plans to issue a million tridents
AHMEDABAD Hard-line Hindu leader Praveen Togadia announced at a news conference two days ago here in the commercial capital of Gujarat that, despite a state government ban, his organization will distribute 3 million tridents, considered a religious symbol.
Mr. Togadia, general-secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (the World Hindu Council), spent eight days in jail for breaking the ban by the Rajasthan state government, which feared misuse of the weapon.
The three-pronged spear is a religious and martial symbol because it is the weapon of Shiva,the Hindu god of destruction and reproduction.
The VHP, which has close ties with India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been at the forefront of a campaign to build a Hindu temple on the site of a razed mosque at Ayodhya.

PAKISTAN
5 plead not guilty in assassination attempt
KARACHI Five Islamic militants pleaded not guilty this week to charges of carrying out a failed assassination attempt on Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf in April last year.
The five were brought before a special anti-terrorism court at Karachi's central jail and were charged with attempted murder, terrorism, use of explosives and criminal conspiracy, said prosecutor Abdul Waheed Khan.
All are members of al-Almi, an offshoot of the radical Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, also blamed for masterminding the June 14 U.S. consulate car-bombing. The five were formally indicted and their trial is to start May 8. Four of the five accused in the Musharraf assassination plot were convicted this month of organizing last year's consulate attack in Karachi that killed 12 Pakistanis.

SRI LANKA
India likely to monitor Tamil truce, official says
COLOMBO An adviser to Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga said yesterday that India was willing to send monitors to observe a tenuous truce between the island's navy and Tamil Tiger rebels.
International affairs adviser Lakshman Kadirgamar who accompanied Mrs. Kumaratunga for talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi earlier this month said he was confident that India was ready to get involved in the cease-fire, which has run into stormy waters in recent months.

Weekly notes …
Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi publicly complained this week for the first time about the lack of progress in national reconciliation talks with the ruling military junta, a major change from her usually conciliatory stance.
"I have come to the conclusion that the [ruling State Peace and Development Council] is not interested in national reconciliation," she told reporters Wednesday at her third news conference since being released last May from 19 months of house arrest. … Kyrgyzstan's lower house of parliament has approved an amnesty for 786 inmates in the ex-Soviet country's disease-ridden prisons. "Our women's prison is intended to house 100 but in fact contains 700," deputy Azimbek Beknazarov told the lower house on Thursday. The amnesty will apply particularly to women over the retirement age of 58, disabled persons, first-time offenders and war veterans, he added.
From wire dispatches and staff reports

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